Grilling outdoors is a rite of summer; it’s also a welcomed break from dirtying up the kitchen. Whether you’re turning on a gas grill or lighting a charcoal-chimney starter, the task is supposed to be an easy, no-fuss endeavor. To ensure an excellent drama-free meal, I lean on ready-to-grill foods that can be purchased from just about any grocery store.
There’s no shortage of offerings — it just depends on your mood. Some of my favorites can be found at Korean grocer H Mart. The store’s meat selection is stellar, and there are also plenty of vegan and meatless options. This list will cut down on trial and error and allow you to confidently glide through grilling season.
1. Marinated Beef Short Ribs, $12.99 per pound
There’s something about kalbi — marinated short rib — that’s incredibly satisfying. Sure, it can be made on the stovetop with a ridged cast iron skillet, but it’s just not the same as when it’s made on the grill. Regardless of the prep, the meat needs to be marinated for flavor and tenderness. H Mart’s marinated kalbi are grill-ready, so you can enjoy the smoky umami of charred edges and a meaty center soon after you arrive home.
2. Marinated Pork Belly, $4.99 per pound
Ah, pork belly. Marinated in a mix of soy and oyster sauces, fruit (apple, pear, honeydew melon), sugar, red pepper, onion, garlic, and other spices, it’s another ready-to-grill protein you can use in a variety of dishes throughout the day: sandwiched within a bao, paired with over-easy eggs, mixed with a grain bowl, or chopped and tossed into instant ramen or leftover takeout rice. It will do right by you.
3. Marinated Chicken Thighs, $4.99 per pound
Boneless dark meat is a must for the grill — especially the marinated hot version, which really isn’t all that spicy. It’s just enough to balance the marinade’s soy and oyster sauce. The marinade features pear, apple, and melon juice, which results in a nice, sweet char. For a crowd, you can stretch the meat by cutting the thighs into cubes and threading it on skewers along with vegetables, such as onions and summer squash.
4. King Oyster Mushrooms, $5.99 for 10.58 ounces
Over the last several years, mushrooms have stepped up as main courses for those eschewing meat. If you’ve reached your cap on portobellos, pick up these king oyster mushrooms. Halve these bad boys into thick slices and place them on the grill. Make a vinaigrette of your choice or use whatever salad dressing is on hand and brush the mushrooms generously with it while they cook.
5. Marinated Pressed Tofu, $3.49 for 8 ounces
Getting that charred smoky flavor a grill imparts complements just about any food, including this marinated pressed tofu. It doesn’t need to be cooked; it just needs to sit on the grill long enough to warm and char. When it comes off, it can be the accompaniment to other grilled vegetables (simply placed on top or sliced into strips) and served as an extra protein with grains or meat.
6. All Soy Sausage, $5.99 for 17.64 ounces
This non-GMO soy sausage will be your go-to. Brush it with seasoned or spicy oil and grill it hot dog-style. And like a classic Chicago dog, pile on the toppings — sliced tomatoes, chopped onion, a pickle spear, relish, yellow mustard, and a few shakes of celery salt. Or to keep it Asian, glide some Kewpie mayonnaise on a french roll and top it with kimchi or pickled daikon and carrots.
7. Frozen Scallops, $19.99 per pound
There’s no getting around the fact that seafood is pricey, especially scallops, and even more so now with supply chain issues and higher fuel costs. So when you can find them at H Mart for $20 per pound, it’s worth checking out — even frozen. Defrost; pat dry; toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper; and grill over super-hot coals. They cook fast, so be careful and watch your timing. From there, all they need is a quirt of fresh lemon juice.
8. Korean BBQ Gochujang Bulgogi Marinade for Pork, $6.99 for 29.6 ounces
When you want to marinate your own meat (and seafood and veggies), but don’t feel like doing it all from scratch, try the O’Food brand marinade. It’s labeled for pork, but really can be brushed on anything for the grill, whether it’s cauliflower cut like steak or firm tofu sliced thick. This brand has no high-fructose corn syrup or preservatives. IMO, it’s a tasty good bet.
Do you have a grilling staple to add to the list? Tell us in the comments below.